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Johns Hopkins to Create Jewish Studies Program

September 14, 2002|From Times Wire Reports

After long resisting religion-based academic majors, Johns Hopkins University announced this week that it is establishing a Jewish studies program with the help of a $5-million gift from a Baltimore foundation.

The $5-million gift from the Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Charitable Foundation will support new course offerings, additional faculty and public lectures, said foundation president Shale D. Stiller .

"Baltimore is one of the four or five centers for Jewish thought and experience in the entire U.S., and therefore, it's really appropriate that the premier educational institution in the city has this type of program," Stiller said.

The creation of a Jewish studies division represents a departure for the university, said David Nirenberg, the Hopkins historian who will direct the new program.

In keeping with its secular tradition, Hopkins had declined to follow the lead of most other leading universities in establishing religious-based majors such as Jewish studies, he said.

The university lacks even a general religious studies department.

About 10% of Hopkins undergraduates are Jewish, a lower ratio than at many other leading East Coast colleges.

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